The Internet is a big place, composed of billions of different websites. Many people want to join the web by having their own site but do not know how to get started. The very first step to having your own site is to have a web host provider. But what exactly is web hosting? We are glad you asked.
What is web hosting?
If you decided you wanted to open up a shop in your town that sold dog toys you would need to do a few things before you were open for business.
Beyond the legal paperwork you would need to get a supplier. You also need a location for your store, so you would likely contact a real estate agent that specialized in business locations. They would help you determine the best location for your store and set out to find a spot to rent. Eventually you would secure a spot in a shopping center that is owned by another company. You then pay rent to them in return for you housing your inventory and running your business in their shopping center.
Web hosting is a lot like that. Web hosting companies are like the owners of the shopping centers. Instead of physical real estate, they own servers. These servers are divided up into spaces that are for rent. Just like store units can be different square footage, web servers can have different sized spots for rent. Which one you need depends on how large your site is. In a physical store you will have inventory and fixtures, such as shelving. In a web server you will have files and images.
Web Hosting FAQs
Domain name vs site hosting
Some people get confused between purchasing a domain name and website hosting. Purchasing a domain name is like naming your business. You now have the exclusive right to use that name, however you still need to rent the server space for your site to be seen on the Internet.
Can I host from my own computer?
While you can certainly build a website on your own computer, you need more than that to host it out on the web. You most likely cannot run a store out of your house for a variety of reasons. The same goes with websites. To host your site from your home computer you would need to make sure it was connected to the Internet 100% of the time. Also, you would need to ensure you have a dedicated IP address for your location. Once you ask for one of those from your ISP, they may force you to upgrade to a business plan. These can cost hundreds of dollars per month.
You also need to have your computer set up with dedicated web server software. There is also security software you will need to block malicious intruders. You also will need to be able to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. This is not to say it cannot be done, but it is not very cost efficient most of the time.
What type of hosting plan do I need?
This answer varies depending on what type of site you are going to have. Is it strictly informational? Will it have members? Will it be database driven or simple static html pages? Are you going to run an e-commerce store? All of these can and will affect the answer to this question.
As in the video above, we have three main categories for hosting - shared, VPS, and dedicated servers. Each of these have sub categories with varying resource limits. Below is a quick summary of the categories.
Shared - Much like an apartment building. Everyone uses the same resources so anyone over-using a resource can affect the others on the server. This is the cheapest and most common type of hosting. Many people start out on a shared hosting plan.
VPS - Virtual Private Servers are much like a townhome, or row house. Each account is like its own home unit. They each have their own resource allocation and much more control over their site environment. However, just like in a shared, tenants that overuse resources may have an effect on the other accounts on the server. This is much less likely to happen on a VPS than a shared server.
Dedicated server - This is like owning your own house. The entire building is yours. In this case, the entire server is yours. All the resources are dedicated to your account, so no one else can bother you on the server. Much like a house, there are different sizes, so you may need to upgrade to larger dedicated servers as your site grows.
What do I do next?
After you understand how web hosting works and have a general idea of what type of hosting you need, you can view the different types of Business, VPS, and Dedicated server plans we have to narrow down your specific plan. We recommend contacting our Live Sales team either by phone (888-321-4678 (continental US only) +1-757-416-6575 (international)) or by our Sales Chat. They can help you find the perfect plan for your site.